Precise B&W Point Adjustment

In general, all images should have full contrast, from maximum black to minimum white. Usually, there should also be some detail in these B&W tones. The density of maximum black should be precisely set so the shadows still retain some density variation; I call this "nearly black". Similarly the highlights should print "nearly white". The Levels tool is excellent for adjusting the image pixels to these values precisely.

Create a new levels adjustment layer by selecting Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels... Name this layer "B&W Points".

Examine the histogram for your image; ideally the histogram will cover the full range of tones from black to white.

Slide the black input slider towards the right, the dark pixels in the image will turn slightly darker. Move the slider over just until the first pixels become pure black. To do this precisely, hold down the alt /

Move the black-point slider while holding the EMI / Q key key while moving the black slider; the view of the image will go white, with a few points of black. The pixels shown as black will be turned pure black by this adjustment. You should adjust the black input slider until a few pixels are set to black.

4 Next slide white input slider towards the left to set the white pixels; pressing the [aM/^J key while moving the white slider will show those pixels that will be shifted towards white.

Move the white-point slider while holding the EH / Q key

Typically, the white point should be set so that just a few pixels will display as pure white; you may even wish to pull back the white point from making any pixels pure white. Solid white parts of the image often appear artificial and may lack any smooth details that you might expect in your highlights.

Your image should now have maximum contrast from black to white.

When working on color images, holding the af key will show the pure black or white pixels in color. These show the effect for each color channel in the image. Just work as if these pixels were not color; adjust the B&W points so that

Color images will display the "white" pixels for each channel - adjust these to show just a few points of color.

just a few pixels are set to pure black or pure white.

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